Blu-ray Review “Transcendence”

Starring: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman
Director: Wally Pfister
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Running Time: 118 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Man oh man, when I heard that “Transcendence” was terrible, I just couldn’t believe it. Executive produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by his long-time cinematographer Wally Pfister and starring Johnny Depp, how could you go wrong? Damn, this was a terrible movie. This was really the Rebecca Hall show anyway, whom I am not a fan of. The story is so messy and it seems like they wanted to take this in WAY too many directions and it ended up failing in all of them. Plus when you find out this cost $100 million dollars and just wonder…how? Check Mr. Depp’s pockets. Leave this one for basic cable unless you really are bored…and want to be more bored.

Official Premise: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they’ve also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed; to be a participant in his own transcendence.

Warner is releasing this as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD and UltraViolet Digital HD digital copy included. The 1080p looks great with the very few visual effects included. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track works for the score, which is not that great anyway. The special features includes four featurettes. The first is “What is Transcendence?”  looks into the concept with cast and crew. “Wally Pfister: A Singular Vision” focuses on the director and the production. “Guarding the Threat” is a debate about the dangers of “transcendence.” “The Promise of A.I.” gets prove from actual scientists and the filmmakers. Lastly there are two viral videos and trailers included.

Own “Transcendence” on Digital HD now and on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on July 22nd.




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CD Review: Reverend Horton Heat “REV”

Reverend Horton Heat
Victory Records
Tracks: 13

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The high octane psycho-billy rebels know as Reverend Horton Heat are back with their 11th studio album simply titled “REV”. Though it has been four years since the bands previous release “Laughin’ & Cryin’ with the Reverend Horton Heat” the 3 piece band from Texas have not missed a beat. The album which is the band’s first since signing with Victory Records features 13 tracks which are very reminiscent of the bands early material.

Having been a fan of the Reverend since the early 90’s I was pretty excited when I started to hear grumblings that the band was working on a new album. Little did I know how surprised I was going to be when I was finally able to listen to it. Classic RHH all the way! The album wastes no kicking the tires and lighting the fires as it blasts right out of the gate with the instrumental track “Victory Lap” which showcases the always impressive instrumental skills of Jim “The Rev Heath”, Jimbo Wallace and Scott Churilla.

As the album progresses you hear everything from classic rockabilly to country and all stops in between. The song “Schizoid” is vintage RHH through and through from its subject matter to the Rev’s signature “yeahs”. The track “My Hat” is the perfect dance number for those looking to swing the night away while the album’s first single “Let Me Teach You How to Eat” goes straight for the throat in blazing style. Don’t let a four year gap between albums scare you away as “REV” is all killer and no filler. Even if you never thought about buying an RHH album in the past this one is a great starting place as it does a great job of capturing all of the bands style and sound.

Track Listing:
1.) Victory Lap
2.) Smell of Gasoline
3.) Never Gonna Stop It
4.) Zombie Dumb
5.) Spooky Boots
6.) Schizoid
7.) Scenery Going By
8.) My Hat
9.) Let Me Teach You How to Eat
10.) Mad Mad Heart
11.) Longest Gonest Man
12.) Hardscrabble Woman
13.) Chasing Rainbows

The Reverend Horton Heat’s Jim Heath talks about new album “Rev”

Jim “Rev” Heath is the lead vocalist/guitarist for the legendary Rockabilly/Punk band The Reverend Horton Heat. The band is set to release their 11th studio album titled “Rev” via Victory Records at the end of January and Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Jim recently about the creation of the album, the bands 30 years career and the trio’s tour plans for 2014.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some info on the band upcoming album “Rev”?
Jim Heath: This was a project that helped us get back to more of the aggressive sound that Reverend Horton Heat is known for. The album kind of harkens back to the sound of the band during the mid-nineties which was during a time when my writing had started to get a little more amped up.

AL: How did the creative process work out for this album being that you were returning to your roots in a way?
JH: One thing that was really fun and different about this record is that with the change in album sales and the music industry as a whole there aren’t a lot of those big budget recording options available like there were in the 90’s. A lot of bands have gone to recording themselves in home studios so I thought that would be something that could be fun. I have a decent collection of recording gear so I got together some sponsors and some high end pro audio gear to start doing this record. In the middle of things we signed with Victory Records which allowed us to go in to a commercial studio to do some bits and pieces of the album. By in large we recorded most of the record in our rehearsal studio in Dallas, TX.

AL: Were there any reservations signing to Victory Records being they predominately work with in the metal/hardcore genre?
JH: Not really. A lot of their marketing is probably aimed towards a different crowd than ours which I thought was kind of a good thing. What bands are on a label is not really as important as it’s more about how well the machinery behind everything works. I didn’t really know how big Victory was until we started talking with them and realizing what the label was. We were super impressed with what they have and how they have a bunch of departments which all work to help promote music in various ways. At the end of the day the solid machinery is what I need to help promote our music.

AL: When you are putting together songs what type of writing approach do you take?
JH: For the most part I tend to always start with lyrics. I will find some lyrics that I like and I will start bashing around to come up with some music or sound that evokes what the lyrics are about. From there I try to come up with the melody. Sometimes things come very quickly and sometimes it doesn’t. Other times a song may come together quickly but the polishing off or finishing can take quite a bit of time for me. There is just so much to think about when doing arrangements.

AL: Do think the large gap between this album and your previous will have an effect on how it is perceived by fans/listeners?
JH: We found out something a long time ago about that as we are a band that has a lot of cd’s out. We also tour a lot. When fans come to our shows they come wanting to hear certain songs so when you put out a new album it can be hard sometimes to get them to accept that new material. People remember the old stuff and that’s what they want to here. Frankly you never really can do that as you are always doing new material so there is going to be something different about them. That’s actually the desired thing as I don’t want to just keep re-writing or rearranging old songs and passing them off as something new. We were putting out an album every two years but it got to where our fans weren’t really accepting those new songs until about 2 years later just as we were about to put out another new album. It got to the point where new albums were almost pissing off our fans so putting out an album every two years got to be where it wasn’t working very well for us. I also find it really frustrating when you put out an album and then you don’t have enough time to go out and play it live as not only do you have to play all the old stuff people know but you only have time to throw in 2 or 3 new tracks. That’s just the nature of the beast not only for us but for a lot of bands.

AL: With a career spanning almost 30 years now what do you feel has been the bands biggest change?
JH: For me the biggest change was the musical direction. This was something that happened early on. We started out as an authentic rockabilly band that played original songs. We were a little more 50’s sounding in the early goings. As time went on we got a little bit more turned up and aggressive. I think in the early 90’s when we decided to take that more turned up approach is what I think helped define our sound. With that said however we still have our rockabilly songs on every album along with some country songs. Sometimes things aren’t planned they just happen. I write songs not albums. I will write one song then a bunch more songs which all end up on an album. That’s just how I work and those things end up being something I never really thought of. I did an album titled “Spend a Night in the Box” which is a little more bluesy and with our last album “Laughin’ and Cryin’ with the Reverend Horton Heat” things lean towards a country sound. Initially that album was going to be a straight country album rather than one that sort of leans towards that style.

AL: Thinking back a ways can you tell us about the bands appearance on “The Drew Carey Show” and how that opportunity came about?
JH: Working with those guys was really fun. Between Drew Carey, Ryan Styles and Diedrich Bader those guys are really funny. The people who worked around them and with them on the show were just hilarious. Just about all of them are stand-up comics. What was funny about that show was that they could barely get it done. It was an ultra-professional set up but then you had these guys all cracking jokes between takes. It made it hard to get everything done. (Laughs) I think how we ended up on the show was that Drew Carey is a big music fan. Drew and his manager took a cross country drive at one point and one of the cd’s they had was “It’s Martini Time”. They liked it and asked us to be on an HBO special called “Mr.Vegas All-Night Party”. We were on there with Wayne Newton, David Cassidy and a bunch of other great musicians and players. From there they asked us to be on the episode. I got to have a couple lines which was really fun.

AL: What other plans do you and the band have for 2014?
JH: We will be doing some more videos for a couple other songs off the new album. We have one out now for the song “Let Me Teach You How to Eat” and we are knocking around ideas for the others. We will be out on the road playing gigs throughout the year as well. We are also going to be a part of some really cool festivals. We always do festivals but we will be on some really high profile ones this year. We are going to be doing Coachella and Punk Rock Bowling so it’s going to be a fun year. I also have my own festival which I put on with my friend Oliver Peck. We are looking to do this year’s in June on the weekend of Friday the 13th. It’s called “The Elm St. Music and Tattoo Festival”. This will be our second year of putting this on and I am pretty excited for it as I think it is something that will continue to grow and be pretty cool.